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How To Overcome The Fear of Weight Gain From an Eating Disorder Psychologist

Updated: Apr 28

(Without focusing on food)

Eating Disorder Psychologist Sydney

Do you find yourself constantly worried about gaining weight or are you scared to eat because of weight gain? You are not alone. As an eating disorder psychologist, time and time again I see this question of; "How to I deal with the fear of weight gain?" in eating disorder treatment being tackled solely by the thing you fear- which is food! It’s like trying to tackle your fear of heights with a solution that involves throwing you off the side of a building.

In this blog I will not be going into anything related to food- you can find many articles on this on Google or social media. However if you have already tried to focus on changing what you are eating to overcome the fear of weight gain, then maybe you need a different approach.


As an eating disorder psychologist who has also recovered from an eating disorder, I want to share with you 2 key steps to start to overcome your fear of weight gain.

1. Understand what is going on in your mind

There are two parts the mind involved in your eating disorder and fear of weight gain. Often struggles with food come from a deeper part of the mind called the subconscious, whose main job is to keep you safe. For some reason (which is different for everyone), your eating disorder believes it is doing you a favour but keeping you stuck. It may be interesting to ask yourself; 'what am I gaining from my eating disorder?'. Your fear of weight gain may be a protection mechanism from your subconscious to keep your eating disorder going in order to keep you safe.


2. What does weight gain mean to you?

To overcome the fear of gaining weight, you must dig a little deeper and understand what weight gain means to you. At some point in your life, your brain made that association that weight equals something bad. This can happen as a result of a negative past experience or a learned behaviour from the people or things around you. For example, you may have received a hurtful comment from someone else about the way you look. Or your family may have also had the same problem and you grew up in a house where weight gain is bad and this exposure led you to pick up the same belief system.


Once this fear of weight gain belief has been wired into the brain, your brain will then go looking for evidence in your environment to reinforce that belief (whether the belief is good or bad) and so over time your belief system will eventually become your reality. This is when you can become scared to eat because of the fear of weight gain, or you find yourself constantly worried about your weight. This is all down to the workings of your brain- NOT you as a person. Because this belief was learned at some point in your life, that means it can also be unlearned, through reflecting and reframing.

To start to rewire this belief system you must look back and then forward:

1. What does my younger self need to know, learn, feel, or believe that would allow me to let go of the fear of weight gain?

2. What is a new belief I could test that doesn’t involve the association that weight gain is bad?



Then it is your job to go looking for evidence in your environment to support this new belief. In essence, you are showing your brain that it is safe and giving it the evidence to start to rewire a new belief that ACTUALLY serves you. This takes time but the more evidence you gather the faster the brain will rewire and you will start to notice that you are able to get over the fear of weight gain.




If this has stirred something up inside you are open to speaking with an eating disorder psychologist in Sydney please get in contact with Hannah Myall, who has also fully recovered from an eating disorder and has since spent the last decade helping individuals and families work towards eating disorder recovery.

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